Legend, by Marie Lu (2011)

Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Interest Level: 13-16
LegendStar-crossed lovers with kick-ass skills and smarts meet on the streets of Los Angeles, and everything they hold dear is lost as they find each other. I’m not sure the world needs another romantic dystopian young adult series, but here it is. It’s perfectly good, or at least good enough to earn a nod for a film release, as producers look for the next Hunger Games. And typical of the genre, it’s fun to read. It’s a set in a bleak, plague-ridden future in which the East Coast seems to have been lost to hurricanes, the West Coast is home to the powerful Republic, and the space in between (Texas, Colorado, Arizona and such) is home to the Colonies, where rebel troops lay siege to the Republic’s military. June is 15, a brilliant girl born of wealth, and a brand-new graduate of the Republic’s military academy. Day is also 15, a rebel who is the Republic’s most wanted criminal, outsmarting soldiers as he scales buildings in seconds, robs banks, and blows up military resources. They meet after a raid by Day for plague medicine costs the life of June’s beloved brother Metias. With the help of Metias’ best friend Thomas and power-driven Commander Jamieson, June heads into the tough streets of Los Angeles to find her brother’s killer. The narrative is delivered in alternating first-person stories, with differential font treatment providing helpful clues as to who is speaking. I say helpful because Lu fails to develop truly distinctive voices. She adds lovely details (a distinctive knot, a memory of the smell of chicken cooking), but her plotwork needs more attention. The Republic manages to hold power even though its forces can’t catch a teen rebel, and June emerges as the military’s star graduate even though she disobeys orders throughout her training. This despite the fact she is 15, blind to Thomas’ feelings for her, and astonishingly oblivious to the ruthlessness of the military regime she works for. The book is the first in a series, setting up a number of questions about the purpose of the plague, the future of the Republic’s leadership, the power of the Colonies and rebels, and the truth of the history of the former United States. An action-packed adventure that fulfills the expectations of those who like the genre, but is likely to irritate more critical readers.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9275658

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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